SXSW is tiring. An avalanche of insights, keynotes, business smarts, discoveries and things to think over. And Over. And again. After one week of SXSW, my neurons generate enough energized heat to propel a kilogram of vegetable pie in an orbit around Saturn. Now it’s time to let the dust settle down, to decant the wine, to take some distance. Not every shiny thing is a new diamond… and some pearls might still be hidden in the muddy waters…
Still, there is a lot to think about:
There will be no New Normal
Rest assured. The old normal is gone, and if you wait for the New Normal, you’re waiting for Godot. Change is here to stay. It’s so omnipresent that it became constant. It’s everywhere, and it is accelerating. It’s a giant snowball, gathering momentum, fuelled by tech, by data, by rapid learning, processing speed, quantum computing, and 5G. It’s spreading on, in and around the planet. It eyes the Moon and Mars. It is re-shuffling cities, schools, companies and countries. It blazes through energy, mobility, sociology, education, healthcare, anthropology, biology, nano-technology…
It’s about ethical living and working, while preserving the planet, enhancing well-being, and making a comfortable profit. Nothing normal about that.
The future is about experience
While tech and data are omnipresent (and soon omni-scient?), they are gently regressing to the background. Tech is here, is here to stay and it is giving us a giant boost. Like electricity, water and WiFi it just is. How to use this tech for good, for better; that is the gazillion dollar question impacting soon 8 billion people. The future is not about tech. It will be with tech. How to create better living, learning, progress, working, caring and prospering are the questions on everyone’s minds today. The future is about experience. About uniting. About sharing. About collaborating. About re-inventing. About having the courage to change. Going for a better experience. About becoming “better humans”: a giant challenge ahead.
Companies and organisations -and their workforce- are scrambling and re-inventing the workplace. The workplace will most probably a hybrid construction, where “where” and “when” work is done is less important than how its done. A business fundamental that shifts from a performance culture around cold KPI’s and being “present” to a collaborative culture on OKPI’s that are based on quality and pertinence. The (Digital) Employee Experience is re-shuffling the very fabric most businesses are build on. Organisations see that there real capital, their “liquid gold” are the people working for and with them. The term “human capital” was coined years ago, but is now more real than ever. If businesses have less and less walls, less and less real estate, less and less brick-and mortar presence, the real ambassadors are the people, on all levels. Culture and shared values are reliable ingredients for this new “mayonnaise”. Business Gatherings are the future for endless meetings: to meet to make a difference, to make an impact; rather than giving endless sit-reps.
Consumers are making their choices on experience to: seamless shopping, contactless paying, phygital set-ups, mobile and social shopping. On demand delivery. Painless paying. Those are the essential ingredients. But, they are not only looking at what a brand offers. They are interested in why a brand matters. They are hawk-eying the values and business purpose of the brands they want to associate themselves with. They are not content with a vague Value Proposition on a website anymore: they want Proof. Action. With great power, comes great responsibility. The total impact of a company, a brand, and organisation has a massive impact on the perceived Consumer/Brand/Experience. Lies and inconsistencies will be pointed out.
The Future is about values, and choices
So it comes down to making the right choices. Where, when and how to work. How to re-invent the workplace, the city, mobility, education. How to make the magic of inclusion work at all levels? How to let ethics co-exist with making a profit? How to gave more people chances without ruining our environment? How to take care of our children? Our elderly people? Fragile minorities? Our ecosystem? Will we be able to open the dialogue on all levels? Dare to really assess and change?
The Future is looking for the right leaders
Above all, SXSW showed that the very beginning of the next journey will not be about tech. It will be around leaders and leaderships. Navigators that show the way, while challenging the status-quo. That are keen and able to keep what is good, while opening up to new opportunities and possibilities. That constructs the future around human well-being, with respect for the planet, while making a healthy profit. Just making your numbers will no longer get you on the winning team any more.
Open, respectful, bidirectional and transparent communication will be the very backbone for this evolving society. Exciting times for us story-tellers, master-marketeers and magic-media wizards. Our trade will be in the middle of the action.
Will we be good enough to take Excalibur out of the Stone?